Individuals Arrested Concerning Tehran Plane Crash, says Iran

Iran's judiciary spokesman Gholam Hossein Esmaeili says arrests have been made over the accidental downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane that killed all 176 people on board, just after takeoff from Tehran. 

In comments carried by state media, Esmaili claims that "extensive investigations have taken place and some individuals are arrested". He gives no further details about the arrests.

Wednesday's downing of the Ukrainian airliner, en route to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, killed all 167 passengers and nine crew members on board. After days of denials, Iran on Saturday acknowledged that its Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) had shot down the Ukrainian plane, saying air defences were fired in error and calling the tragedy “a disastrous mistake” on Iran’s part.

Iran's air defences had been on high alert because the country had just launched missile attacks on US targets in Iraq in retaliation for the killing of the top Iranian commander, Qasem Soleimani, in a US drone strike in Baghdad on January 3.

The downing and the lack of transparency around it triggered anger in Tehran and elsewhere, with protesters taking to the streets to direct their rage towards senior officials, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. In response to the public outrage, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani called for a special court to be set up with a ranking judge and dozens of experts to investigate the "tragic event".

"This is not an ordinary case. The entire world will be watching this court," Rouhani says, adding that everyone responsible for the accident shall be punished.

Ukraine's Foreign Minister, Vadym Prystaiko, said on Monday that the countries that had citizens on board (Canada, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Sweden) would meet in London on Thursday to discuss possible legal action and determine the steps they can take to "bring the perpetrators to justice and how we can repay those families who have suffered".

By Elene Dzebisashvili

14 January 2020 15:55